Tag Archives: Land Use

Local Coastal Program Amendments

Local Coastal Program Amendments . . . as of July 2017

Latest News:  City staff has separated what it calls the “clean-up” portions of its proposed Local Coastal Program amendments (as heard by the Planning Commission on May 4 — see below) from the rest.  A first noticed hearing on these was held before the City Council on July 11, 2017. At that meeting, the Council declined to accept staff’s claim that since 2010, the so-called “planned communities” — even in the Shoreline Height Limit Area — have been free of any height restrictions.  Without further review, a revised “clean-up” supposedly eliminating that provision seems to have been submitted to the California Coastal Commission as part of City Council Resolution No. 2017-45.  The Peninsula Point Oceanfront Encroachment proposal, and the one for Accessory Dwelling Units, were similarly approved for submittal at the next meeting, with Council Resolutions No. 2017-50 and 2017-51.  If amended by the Coastal Commission, the Council would have to agree to the amendments or abandon the proposals.

The Balboa Village Parking Management District plan portion of the amendments has not been scheduled for a Council hearing.  However as Item 12 at its July 25, 2017, meeting, the Council approved a proposal for staff to begin work on incorporating the LCP for Newport Coast (currently administered by the County) into the City’s LCP.  Considering the large quantity of unbuilt allocations in Newport Coast (according to the staff report, 182 homes, 1,046 hotel rooms and 75,933 square feet of commercial development, but no longer protected by any development agreement with the City), this would seem a major effort, and one SPON is watching with concern.

Project Overview:  The Newport Beach Local Coastal Program sets policies and detailed rules for issuing Coastal Development Permits, which are the main mechanism for ensuring compliance with the California Coastal Act.  Effective January 30, 2017, finally (some 45 years after passage of the voter-enacted precursor to the Coastal Act) and for the first time, the City of Newport Beach obtained a fully certified Local Coastal Program authorizing it to process and issue such permits.

Why We Were Watching:  The ink was barely dry on the LCP, when it was discovered that a raft of apparently staff-generated amendments was being rushed to approval with very little public awareness.  SPON is very concerned both with the process and with the substance of the proposed amendments.  In particular, City staff is seeking major changes to the Coastal Land Use Plan’s policy declaration regarding the City’s long-standing building height limitations, which would, among other things, exempt so-called “planned communities” from the considerations that apply to other properties.

As most recently presented to the Planning Commission (see May 4, below), and going to the City Council, the current amendment package consists of three (or eleven, depending on how one counts) completely unrelated items:

  • a Balboa Village Parking Management District plan (eliminating off-street parking requirements for most businesses in that area)
  • an East Oceanfront Encroachment Program (allowing private improvements on the first 15 feet of the public beach in front of most ocean-facing homes in Peninsula Point from E Street to the Wedge)
  • a “Implementation Plan Clean-up” package (itself consisting of nine unrelated insertions and changes to the Coastal Land Use Plan and the Implementation Plan)

Whatever one may think of the merits of staff’s proposals, the proposals themselves are deeply flawed:

  • As indicated in a SPON letter, the Parking Management plan prioritizes resident-serving commercial uses over marine-related ones, in contradiction of Coastal Act policies.
  • The Encroachment Program introduces new regulations into the Implementation Plan that permit development in areas where it is explicitly prohibited by the governing Land Use Plan.
  • The “Clean-up,” among other contradictions, deletes the Coastal Commission approved  Land Use Plan policy exceptions that allowed the Lido House Hotel (being built at the old City Hall site) to rise to 65 feet in a 35-foot height limitation zone, but retains the Implementation Plan regulations allowing such excess heights (now without explanation or justification).

On a separate track, City staff has proposed amending both the Zoning Code and the LCP to accommodate what they say are changes required by new state laws in the City’s rules for “Accessory Dwelling Units” (small rental units) in single-family neighborhoods.  That was first seen (and initially rejected) as Item 2 at the Planning Commission’s May 4,  2017, meeting.

Upcoming:

  • The City Council hearing on the proposed East Oceanfront Encroachment Program for Peninsula Point has been noticed for July 11. A revised “clean-up” package will likely be presented at the same meeting. The hearing date for the Balboa Village Parking Management District proposal has not been announced.
  • If the Council approves staff’s flawed proposals, they will be submitted to Coastal Commission staff for a hearing before that body.  If it is like what happened with the original Implementation Plan, the package will be presented to the Coastal Commission with proposed changes developed by Coastal and City staff with little or no public awareness of what has been negotiated, or why.

Recent Events:

  • July 11, 2017:  The City Council heard the  “clean-up” portion of the proposed LCP amendments, including a provision that would have exempted planned communities from the City’s longstanding height limits, even in the so-called 35′ Shoreline Height Limit Area.  The Council questioned that proposal and asked staff to come back with a revised “clean-up” eliminating that proposal.
  • May 18, 2017:  At the Corona del Mar Residents Association‘s monthly meeting, the City’s Community Development Director, Kimberly Brandt, and Deputy Director, Brenda Wisneski, gave a presentation entitled “Local Coastal Plan Amendments (Shoreline Properties) & future General Plan Update Project” (see the agenda).   Regarding the LCP Amendments, Ms. Wisneski indicated that despite the Newport Beach Planning Commission’s action on May 4 (recommending Council approve the flawed amendment package exactly as presented by staff), instead of sending the proposal directly to the City Council, City staff is working with the Coastal Commission staff in Long Beach to figure out what might actually fly (before it becomes effective, whatever amendments the Council approves have to be certified by the Coastal Commission, which looks to their own staff to spot problems with them).  She anticipated this process might take several months, but did not explain exactly what would happen at the end of it.  That is, would a revised set of amendments be brought back to the Planning Commission for public re-consideration?  Or (as happened with the original LCP) would the Council adopt City staff’s (flawed) package, but with a forewarning (based on the staff discussions) of what parts the Coastal Commission would likely change or reject?  Apparently time will tell.
  • May 4, 2017:  The amendments were re-noticed for a hearing before the Planning Commission as Item 3 on May 4.  At that hearing, it seemed apparent most of the Commissioners either had not reviewed the item in advance of the meeting, or were not interested in it.  Despite the many flaws pointed out to them (see above under “Why We’re Watching”), on a 5:1 vote (with Commissioner Lawler absent and Commissioner Weigand voting “no”) the Commission, without any substantive comment or any revisions at all, recommended the Council approve all the amendments as submitted.  The Commission showed more interest in the separate Accessory Dwelling Unit amendments, which they voted to continue until they had more time to study them.
  • April 11, 2017:  With little to no prior public awareness, action by the Council on the LCP amendments was scheduled for a public hearing as Item 18 on the April 11 agenda.  As a result of reminders from the public that Council action was not legally allowed without a Planning Commission recommendation (as required by Table 21.50-1 in the newly certified Implementation Plan), the item was withdrawn.

News Coverage

  • none so far

Helpful Links

 

General Plan update

General Plan Update  . . .  as of October 2017

Latest News:    Based on the tentative agenda passed out at a recent Planning Commission meeting, it looks like the main kick-off for the General Plan Update effort will come at the Council’s November 14, 2017, meeting, with both a “study session” in the afternoon, and action at the evening meeting.  At that meeting, it appears the Council will both formally initiate the project, and define the structure of a “steering committee” and an “advisory committee.”  On the same day, prior to the Council meeting and at a different location, SPON will be hosting an organizational meeting for a citizens advisory panel which hopes to oversee the unfolding of the process,  independent of the City — such true citizens’ oversight having been lacking from previous GPU efforts in Newport Beach.

Project Overview:  While details remain sketchy, Mayor Kevin Muldoon announced the initiation of an update of the city’s General Plan as a major objective for the current City Council term.  Presumably we will learn more about, and possibly have some influence over, the scope and timeline on November 14.

Why We Were Watching:  Although SPON has repeatedly called for the development of “comprehensive” plans for specific areas of the city, such as Mariners Mile, West Newport Mesa and the Airport Area, this city proposal is different and could have worrisome consequences.   In 2006, the General Plan update process was used, without the full understanding of most residents, to expand and “reset” the Greenlight development thresholds throughout the city.  By approving the update, voters in effect gave the “Greenlight” to future projects they assumed they would be given a second chance to vote on, such as the two recently erected high-rise office towers (PIMCO and Irvine Company) in Newport Center and the massive 524-unit Villas Fashion Island apartment project at the corner of Jamboree and San Joaquin Hills Road.

With greater public awareness, a similar, but even more fast-tracked and developer-driven General Plan update effort in 2013-2014 was overwhelmingly rejected when approval of the land use changes was placed on the ballot as Measure Y.

Measure Y did nothing to allay the widespread impression that staff, consultant and others, guided by unknown influences, formulate most of the content of General Plan Updates “off camera,” spoon-feeding largely predetermined recommendations to what is ostensibly a citizens committee, eventually congratulated for its “hard work.”

While city staff has indicated the present update may not even touch the critical land use limits needing voter approval, some Council members, early on, mentioned hoping to see the matter on the November 2018 ballot — which implies that it will.

Whatever the process turns out to be, for the sake of “our town” close watchfulness will be needed to ensure the General Plan modifications are resident-driven rather than developer-driven.

Upcoming:

November 14, 2017:

  • Based on tentative agendas, formal initiation of the update process is expected to come at the November 14, 2017, City Council meeting.  A discussion of the plan is expected at an afternoon public “study session” followed by action at the regular evening meeting. An agenda and the staff report detailing the proposed evening actions should be posted online the previous Thursday at around 4 pm.
  • Anticipating a need for independent tracking, review and comment on the City process and proposals, SPON will be convening a meeting of interested people at 1 pm on November 14, prior to the City Council meeting.  Those attending will likely create their own “Citizens General Plan Advisory Committee” (GPAC), shadowing any created by the City.

The most recent indications from senior planning staff are that the actual work on the General Plan update will not start until “late” in the calendar year, or early 2018.

If any major changes in land use limits need to be put on the  ballot for Greenlight approval, as was done with Measure Y, that would presumably not occur until November 2020.

Recent Events:

February 14, 2017:  City Manager Dave Kiff described a proposal for a General Plan Update in a PowerPoint slide presented at a Council study session regarding the upcoming budget.

February 16, 2017:  Mayor Kevin Muldoon announced a General Plan Update as a major priority for the coming year in his speech at Speak Up Newport’s 36th annual Mayor’s Dinner (City video here).

May 18, 2017:  At the Corona del Mar Residents Association‘s May 18, 2017, meeting, the City’s then Community Development Director, Kimberly Brandt, and then Deputy Director, Brenda Wisneski, gave a presentation entitled “Local Coastal Plan Amendments (Shoreline Properties) & future General Plan Update Project” (see the agenda). As part of the latter presentation, they distributed a flyer describing their vision of the GPU project. Although most of this has not yet been approved by the City Council, the flyer indicates staff sees the present calendar year being used to select an outside consultant and appoint an Advisory Committee. Work on actually revising the General Plan would begin in January 2018, with adoption expected in March or April 2020. Although funding for Year 1 was subsequently approved, Ms. Brandt retired on July 28, and Ms. Wisneski left to accept a job in another city at the end of September, which may delay the plans as new staff is put in place. As of late September, the new Community Development Director, Seimone Jurjis (former Deputy Director overseeing the Building Division), has indicated a Request for Proposals for consultants is being prepared, but will be submitted to the City Council for review and approval before actually being posted.

June 13, 2017:  Funding for the update ($1 million in the first year, with at least another $1 million expected in later years) was allocated, without much discussion or direction, in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017.

News Coverage

Documents

  • Existing Newport Beach General Plan
  • City Manager’s February 2017 PowerPoint slide requesting $1 million budget allocation for first year of update (approved with overall budget in June)
  • May 2017 Community Development Department flyer describing City staff’s vision for possible update

Additional documents divulged in response to a September 2017 Public Records Act request:

Helpful Links

  • A City webpage regarding the General Plan Update is reportedly in the works, but has not yet been made public.

Koll Center Residences

Koll Center Residences . . . as of October, 2017

Latest News:  The Draft Environmental Impact Report has been released for public review (see “Recent Events,” below), with public comments due by October 27.  The project and DEIR were expected be presented for public review by the Planning Commission at an October 19 “study session,” however that presentation has been cancelled.  It now looks like the Planning Commission will review the project, and be asked to make a recommendation to Council, in a single meeting on December 7, 2017.

Project Overview:  This is a proposal to add 260 condominium residences in three 150 foot tall towers in what is now the surface parking lot of an office campus near the corner of Jamboree and Birch in the Airport Area.  See the city webpage for further details.

Why We Were Watching:  This project raises multiple issues about height, density, compatibility with neighboring uses, as well as the viability of the General Plan’s vision for adding residential to the Airport Area, and whether it is being properly implemented.

Upcoming:

December 7, 2017 @ 6:30 p.m.:  The Newport Beach Planning Commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the project and Draft EIR and make recommendations to the City Council at its regular meeting on December 7.  A pre-hearing study session, that had been scheduled and announced in the DEIR for October 19, has been cancelled without explanation.

Recent Events:

September 13, 2017:  The Draft EIR was released for public review. Comments submitted by October 27 will receive a written response in the Final EIR.  The public can continue to comment on the EIR until such time as it is certified, but the City is not required to provide a formal response to comments made after October 27.  Further details are available in the City’s announcement.

January 18, 2017: A scoping meeting for the project’s Environmental Impact Report was held  with comments due by February 2.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

 

Harbor Pointe Senior Living

Harbor Pointe Senior Living  . . .  as of February, 2017

Project Overview:  This is a proposal to build a 4-story, 121-bed convalescent and congregate care facility at the current site of the Kitayama Restaurant on South Bristol.

Why We Were Watching:  Under the city’s General Plan, a project of this sort is not allowed at  the requested location, and hence its approval requires a General Plan amendment.  Such changes to the voter-approved land use designations are always of concern, and in this case neighbors have expressed worries about the building’s compatibility with neighboring residential uses.

Recent Events:

A scoping meeting for the project’s Environmental Impact Report was held on August 15, 2016, with comments due by August 22.  The EIR is presumably being prepared.

Prior to release of the EIR, the Planning Commission heard about and discussed the proposal, without action, as Item 4 on its February 23, 2017, agenda.  The “study session” was well attended by Bayview and Santa Ana Heights neighbors, most quite critical of the project as currently proposed.  See the City video.

News Coverage

Helpful Links

 

Newport Beach Tennis Club

Newport Beach Tennis Club . . . as of April 2017

Project Overview:  The Newport Beach Tennis Club (and swim facility) occupies 7.6 acres at 2601 Eastbluff Drive, adjacent to Ralphs in the Eastbluff Village Center.  Neighbors have heard rumors that the land owner has been approached by a developer interested in purchasing the property and turning it into residential condominiums

Why We Were Watching:  The rumored development is inconsistent with the property’s existing General Plan designation for Parks and Recreation use.  The current owner or potential buyer would therefore need to make a request to change that designation, and the City has no obligation to comply.  SPON views such requests to change the General Plan with great skepticism.

Recent Events:

  • February 14, 2017:  “Mayor Muldoon requested future agenda items on the zoning and future use of the Newport Beach Tennis Club and the roundabout at Bayside Drive” (see City Council Minutes, Item XII).
  • February 28, 2017: Council unanimously approves request for staff to prepare future agenda item providing a “Summary of the Existing General Plan Designation and Zoning for the Newport Beach Tennis Club” (see City Council Minutes, Item XIII).
  • April 11, 2017:  Although it was not on the agenda, under “City Council Announcements” at the April 11 meeting (Item XII), “Mayor Muldoon presented a proclamation to the Newport Beach Tennis Club commending its service to the community.”  Earlier that day, City Manager Dave Kiff sent the following message by email to those seeking information about the development proposal:

Dear Neighbors –

Via an email sent in late January 2017, I promised to keep you updated on activities regarding the Newport Beach Tennis Club.  Recently, an interested buyer of the underlying land and the property owner approached the City at a staff level (our planning staff) to determine what would be required to accommodate residential uses at the site.  Staff told them, as I told you previously, about the requirement for a change in the General Plan (via an Amendment) and the underlying zoning.

Changes in the General Plan are discretionary actions by the City Council – in other words, the Council can say yes or no to them.  In some cases, if enough residential is added or peak hour trips are added, a vote of the Newport Beach electorate is also required following any Council approval of a General Plan Amendment (GPA).

Please know that we have not been notified by either the property owner or the interested buyer of their intent to begin processing a GPA and other related zoning actions.  Should an application be filed, I will let you know as well as provide information regarding the proposed review schedule and at what time you may comment on the proposed project.  The process will include public review and comment opportunities on any draft environmental document, as well as public hearings before both the Planning Commission and City Council.

One additional FYI.  At tonight’s Council meeting, Mayor Kevin Muldoon (also the District #4 representative) intends to give the Tennis Club a proclamation for its service to the community.  No other action is planned for tonight’s meeting.

Sincerely,

Dave Kiff
City Manager
City of Newport Beach
949-644-3001

  • To date (April 22, 2017), SPON does not believe any formal application for land use change has been submitted to the CIty.  The requested discussion of the zoning status of the property was at one time listed as a tentative Study Session item for the Council’s May 9 meeting, but it is not known if that is still planned.

News Coverage

  • none so far

Helpful Links

  • City’s case log of recent planning applications (not always accurate or up to date)

 

General Plan Amendments

General Plan Projects Update (5/23/2015):
Mission accomplished: Agenda Item 5 Continued!
Our efforts, letters and phone calls worked: the Planning Commission acknowledged at their May 21 meeting that it did not have enough information to approve the General Plan Land Use Element “correction” proposed by staff. More information has notably been requested from the County of Orange, and staff publicly stated that it would continue to confer with SPON on this matter going forward.  In sum, this was a success at every level. Good job!  We will of course be back in touch when we have new news.

General Plan Projects Update (5/2015):  The May 21 Planning Commission will review a staff report/recommendation to correct a General Plan Land Use “error” which will add 300,000 square feet of hotel entitlement space to Newport Coast.  Another example of “piecemeal planning”?  We are currently investigating this issue.

General Plan Projects Update (2/2015): During the City Council Annual Planning Session on January 31, an overview of on-the-books and new projects was presented.  It seems, from this presentation, that the projects outlined in Measure Y were just the tip of the iceberg and the City continues to persist in “piecemeal” planning.

The “short list” includes General Plan Amendments such as the Newport Center Beacon Bay Car Wash to be redeveloped as a seven-story 49-unit residential condominium project and reshuffling Irvine Company entitlements in Newport Center so that shuttered office buildings can be reopened.  The Irvine Company entitlements review will be discussed/voted on at the February 24 City Council Meeting (public notice here).

Municipal Code Amendments for the West Newport Area overlay would allow greater height limits for residential structures in the 57-acre overlay area.

In addition to this specific Municipal Code Amendment, we see an alarming trend toward increasing building height limits and encroachment on public view corridors throughout Newport Beach.

City Contact:
Kim Brandt, Community Development Director
By Email

Questions for SPON:
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